Central Arizona Project asks nearby Colorado River water users to not use their full share
YUMA, Ariz. – If water levels at Lake Mead in Nevada continue to drop, a shortage could be declared for the Lower Colorado River by 2017. The Central Arizona Project, or C.A.P. as its also known, distributes water to Central Arizona. They will declare a shortage if water levels drop only 14 more feet.
As it stands today, Yuma County’s agriculture industry depends heavily on the resource. But the Metro-Phoenix area has a city to maintain. “Yuma County Water User’s has one of the highest priorities on the river, and C.A.P. has the lowest priority on the river,” said Wade Noble, Attorney for several Yuma County water irrigation districts.
Bob Barrett with the Central Arizona Project says it takes about 1.5 million acre feet per year to supply Central Arizona with water. With a great need for supply, C.A.P. is encouraging nearby states dependent on the river to not use the full amount they’re entitled.
This Barrett says, could stall the shortage. But some in Yuma County worry distributing their water could affect the agriculture industry, and in turn the economy. “And that’s really what the issue is, we feel it’s not something we want to do to damage the local economy, to help the economy for another area or region,” said Elston Grubaugh with the Wellton-Mohawk Irrigation and Drainage District.
If Yuma County doesn’t act fast to cooperate with conservation ideas…seniority might not matter anymore. C.A.P’s secretary of Interior has the power to redistribute water if times get tough enough for Central Arizona. “And if a shortage is declared then the secretary has the legal authority to change the water allocations. And if that happens we’re concerned about our political power to keep others from taking the water from us, ” said Wade.
Water levels will be reviewed this October. In the meantime, wheels will keep on turning to generate a new plan. “But I do think that we have things in common and we can discuss that would benefit the river and protect our interests as well,” said Grubaugh.